Reimagining Rural Innovation (Part 2)

This is the second in a series of posts presenting the main takeaways from the breakout session on Rural Innovation, held at the third Design Public Conclave. See the first part here.

Sustainability of Efforts and Impact

While most discussants acknowledged the logic and anticipated impact of the lab, there were apprehensions when the topic of sustainability came up. Adam Koon from PHFI and other key discussants mentioned that the lab initiative might create a halo phenomenon leading to a rise in the innovation quotient and impact on healthcare services over the next few years but how we sustain this in the longer run is key. We must develop a sustainable mechanism that continuously generates benefits.

At the first deliberation this comes across as a tough task especially because the lab will be made up of innovation specialists who will analyze the challenges from both an insider’s and external perspective in order to accurately identify failure points. Transferring this capacity to the local service cadres who make up the context will require careful pedagogic effort and radical transformation in their working styles. Keeping this in mind one of the current roles of the lab is to train government personnel and local service cadres, on the job, in innovation practices such that they can routinely apply this to their everyday work without external dependencies.

On another note, in the current scheme of things at the lab, governing advisors and innovation specialists in the lab will be committed to developing solutions to critical healthcare delivery challenges. This aspect may not be easily and fully transferable to existing cadres but might need to be implanted as new function that is carried out conjointly by health-delivery personnel and innovation specialists. If the lab were to dedicatedly train and create these innovation specialists in a ‘lab-school environment’, then it could embed these knowledge resources within the govt and partner organizations to continue innovation functions within the system in a more integrated manner. We will be exploring the prospect of a lab-school arm to the Bihar Innovation Lab and seeking stakeholder alignments and partnerships for the same.

Who knows, the lab in the future might even organically morph itself into an innovation hub that plugs into all of Bihar’s healthcare strategy, policy, and programme and innovation interventions development. As we flesh out the scope of operations and annexe functions of the Lab, in the coming weeks, we look to explore new methods transfer knowledge, practices and functions to the govt cadres and gates partners to ensure the sustainability of the initiative.

Look out for the subsequent posts on the remaining three focus areas for healthcare and how the lab model is relevant to holistic rural development.

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